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This GM doesn’t step away from a challenge

Ciji Jumpiere doesn’t shy away from challenges — she faces them head on.

By day, Ciji is general manager of the Best Buy store in Harvey, Louisiana, where she has a team of more than 60 employees. By night, she’s pursuing her master’s degree in business administration. In her free time, she mentors fellow Best Buy employees. And 24/7, Ciji is a wife and mother of three.

“She never sits down,” said Ken McCullum, Best Buy senior market operations and service manager, who has known Ciji for six years. “She’s not one to settle. She always wants to better herself.”

Ciji, a military veteran, was trained to be resilient during basic training and throughout her 14-month deployment. “You have to be quick to pivot and adjust,” she said. “The military helped instill that in me.”

But the lessons she learned from her service only built upon the skills she had developed as a child.

Keeping a growth mindset

When she was young, Ciji’s mother passed away from leukemia. Shortly after, Ciji’s grandmother and guardian decided to move them from Fresno, California, to Louisiana to reconnect with family there.

“I hated the move,” Ciji said. “I just didn’t feel received. It was a sad time for me.”

Things started to get better for Ciji after a year of adjusting to the new state and culture. By her senior year in high school, she had joined the student council and been named homecoming queen. She says positive thinking and seeing the change as an opportunity helped her find the good in her situation and make the most of it.

“I keep a growth mindset,” Ciji said. “Even if it’s something bad, I look for the reasoning behind it and find the positive in it.”

These lessons have served Ciji well as she’s met additional challenges throughout her life — whether they’re small, daily obstacles or greater setbacks. Even a hurricane couldn’t bring her down.

Leading through disaster

In late August last year, Hurricane Ida was charging toward the Gulf Coast, setting its sights on New Orleans.

Ciji’s store is located just outside the city, and she knew she had to put her employees first.

She closed the store early on Saturday, Aug. 28, so employees could evacuate. She and her family left, as well, and returned a week later to a flooded store.

Ciji immediately began to check on her employees. “I just needed to be there for my team,” she said. “Getting them water, gas, whatever they needed and getting them set up with emergency funds.”

Another week later, after things were deemed safe, Ciji and her available team members were offering curbside pickup for the community. There was a gasoline shortage, and the nearest functioning grocery store was two hours away.  

“You find a way to push through it,” Ciji said. “See through the bigger picture, and you have to make the best of it.”

In all, Store 373 was closed for 42 days for repairs. Many of Ciji’s employees were delayed or chose not to return home because of the catastrophic damage to Harvey.

Lifting others up

While Hurricane Ida might have set Ciji and her store back briefly, she’s not slowing down anytime soon.

“Nothing’s too big for her,” Ken said. “She’ll take on more projects and more stuff than you can give her.”

She loves learning and is proud to be part of Best Buy mentorship programs to help others develop themselves, too. As one of few BIPOC, women general managers, Ciji knows representation matters and hopes her leadership inspires others to go after their highest career aspirations.

“As a woman in a male-dominated business, it means so much to me that I’m able to hold a high position in a store,” she said. “It shows other women, even if you’re a mother or a wife, you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”